05/19/2018, 16.46
MALAYSIA
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Mahathir announces the names of his ministers

Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, wife of former rival Anwar Ibrahim, is the new deputy prime minister. Ibrahim is granted a royal pardon. Former Prime Minister Najib Razak will be called to testify before the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission over the disappearance of US$ 4.5 billion from the state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1Mdb). Police search six properties connected to Najib.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Mahathir bin Mohamad, Malaysia’s newly elected prime minister, unveiled his cabinet yesterday, after receiving the approval of King Muhammad V of Kelantan during a meeting at the royal palace.

On Monday, the formal swearing-in of the new government will take place during a ceremony at the Istana Negara, the national palace, the official residence of Malaysia’s sovereign.

During the week, the 92-year-old Mahathir announced the name of five cabinet ministers, including Lim Guan Eng at Finance, Muhyiddin Yassin at Interior and Mohammad Sabu at Defence.

Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, wife of former Mahathir rival Anwar Ibrahim and now his ally, is the new deputy prime minister.

Meanwhile, outgoing Prime Minister Najib Razak is expected to be called to testify before the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over the disappearance of US$ 4.5 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1Mdb), a state strategic development company.

Before Mahathir’s surprise victory in the general elections on 9 May, few would have predicted this turn of events in the investigation. Najib has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

The authorities in six countries, including the United States and Switzerland, are now investigating the company.

Shortly after his win, Mahathir issued the order that his former protégé and his wife, Rosmah Mansor not be allowed to leave the country because of sufficient evidence warranting further investigation.

Looking for evidence to link the former PM to the financial scandal that has shaken the nation in recent months, police searched six properties connected to Najib in the last few hours.

Last night, during a raid at the former premier's private residence, police seized 52 designer handbags, 10 luxury watches and US$ 135,000 worth in foreign currencies.

A few hours earlier, agents had confiscated 284 boxes with designer handbags and dozens of bags full of money and jewels, from a number of luxury apartments.

Grassroots resentment over the 1Mdb affair played a decisive role in the electoral victory of Pakatan Harapan (PH), the four-party political alliance led by Mahathir that includes veteran opposition leaders who had clashed with Mahathir when he served as prime minister between 1981 and 2003.

The 92-year-old politician joined the alliance in 2016, justifying the move with his loss of confidence in Najib, once his protégé, following financial scandals.

Najib’s former mentor ruled Malaysia for decades with a firm grip and even threw his former opponent Anwar Ibrahim into prison on sodomy and corruption charges.

On Wednesday, the 70-year-old leader of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) was granted a full pardon by the king and returned to speak at a rally, three years after the last time. The royal ruling now makes him eligible for active political life.

Mahathir said that he will hand over the government to Anwar in "one to two years", once he is elected a member of parliament or senator in a supplementary election.

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